Sak Yant – Thailand’s Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya

As soon as we arrived in Thailand we started noticing people’s traditional tattoos.  After a few internet searches, we learned more about the “Sak Yant” as they are called– magic bamboo tattoos.  Sak Yant are beautifully designed and come with a blessing, their goal to grant protection and to give strength to the bearer of the tattoo.  The sacred tattoos are given by Buddhist monks, or ex-Monk tattoo masters called Ajarns.  The Ajarns dedicated their lives to learning the ancient art, passing the traditions down to their apprentices.

Our Sak Yant Experience in Ayutthaya

After the initial research we put in, we were turned off by the whole “free tattoo in the temple thing” as from the accounts we first read the process seemed crowded and rushed, with questionable sterilization practices.  We searched for a more personable experience, and that is when we found Where Sidewalks End Travel.  WSE’s owner Ian has spent years traveling all over Asia looking for the best Ajarns masters of the art of Sak Yant.  He now offers the most authentic Sak Yant experiences for travelers by providing a translator/guide and making sure participants really understand the purpose of the tattoos they are getting.

On the morning of our appointment, our guide, Coco, picked us up at our hostel and we took a taxi to Mo Chit Bus Terminal in Bangkok.  From there we took a mini van for the 1.5 hour journey north to Ayutthaya.  We chose to go to Ayutthaya because of the amazing things we had heard about Ajarn Wao, the sak yant master there, and his psychic abilities.  He seemed like the best choice and we trusted him to use his mastery to help us decided on the right sak yant tattoos for us.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya

Once in the city, we stopped to buy marigold wreaths as an offering.  After getting the flowers we jumped into a tuk tuk that would take us to the samayant” the studio/temple where the ceremony would take place.  After driving past the temples of the old Thai capital, we arrived and were welcomed upstairs into the sacred space.

The room was open with many windows.  At the far end was a tiered altar containing many images of the Buddha, Ganesh (the elephant god and god of art), and other sacred figures.  Incense burned in the corner and the master’s apprentices sat patiently at the side of the room.  While we waited for Ajarn Wao, our guide Coco told us some guidelines to follow in order to be respectful.  These included never pointing your feet towards the altar and walking with bent knees, aiming to never walk taller than the Ajarn.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
The altar in the samayant, with images of Ganesh (the elephant god), Hanuman (the monkey king), Lersi the Hermit, and the Buddha.
sak yant ayutthaya
9 sticks in incense each for good luck.
Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
9 sticks of incense burn for each of us.

When Ajarn Wao entered the room, we kneeled at the front and lit nine sticks of incense each, nine being the most lucky number in Thailand.  We then presented our marigold wreaths which were hung on the altar.  Carrie decided to go first, since she had more tattoo experience.  Through our translator Coco, Carrie answered questions about her birth-date, along with a few details about some struggles she has had and her desire to be more mindful in her life.  Ajurn Wao made a chart in his notebook, which he used to explain her future and recent past.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
Carrie’s age timeline.
Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
The needles and equipment.

Carrie’s Sak Yant Experience:

Carrie’s tattoo was decided; she would receive a tiger to protect her and give her strength.  The tiger would be depicted looking over its shoulder at her past, which was difficult but would make her stronger.  In the future her enemies will become jealous of her strength and success, and will try to take it from her, the Ajarn said.  But in the end she will overcome, emerging stronger than ever.  Thus that tattoo was also a reminder to stay in the moment, to not worry about the future.

Tiger Sak Yant
The basic outline
Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
Starting Carrie’s protective tiger Sak Yant.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya

Sak Yant Tiger Ayutthaya Sak Yant Tiger Ayutthaya Sak Yant Tiger Ayutthaya

Ajarn Wao worked fast, but Carrie’s tattoo was large and it took nearly an hour.  It was amazing the precision of his needle strikes.  After he wiped the ink away, intricate patterns were revealed.  As he went he was constantly uttering blessings, his mantras calming.  After a few more blessings were added, the tattoo was finished.

But Ajarn Wao wasn’t done.  He wanted to give Carrie a special additional oil sak yant tattoo, invisible but still powerful.  Our guide said that this was very rare.  Carrie agreed and soon a design formed on her upper back out of small bits of blood.  The oil yant would fade over the next few days, but it’s lucky magic would remain.

Invisible Oil Sak Yant
Invisible Oil Sak Yant
Invisible Oil Sak Yant
The finished oil yant — it disappeared in a few days.

Zach’s Sak Yant Experience: 

As it was my turn the calmness left me and my palms became sweaty.  I sat in silence with plans to share about some of my struggles, my idea that I was my own worst enemy.   I knelt before the Ajarn and before I could speak a word, he said to me (translated through Coco) “You need to decrease your ego.  Try to think before speaking.”  This was shocking because ego was what I already knew to be a problem and exactly what I had planned to bring up.

He then figured out the meaning of my birthday.  In the Chinese calendar, I am born in the year of the rabbit.  However, Ajarn Wao based his predictions on the Thai calendar.  Under these dates, I was born in the year of the snake, and on Saturday, the day of the snake.  This double snake made me very powerful, but my biggest enemy was my ego.  The Ajarn then asked me about what I wanted to share, and I exclaimed that everything had already been said.  I felt as if Ajarn Wao could see into my soul, which was scary but also calming in a way, as understanding your weaknesses is the only way to truly overcome them.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
Ajurn Wao deciding which Sak Yant will help me the most.

My tattoo was to be a blessing, with an emphasis on a chicken.  The chicken would distract the snakes (my ego) and help bring my consciousness away from my ego’s control.  It would help me to listen and think more before speaking, allowing me to choose the right words at the right time.  After a blessing I bent forward, away from the master who began inserting the inked stick into my back.

Traditionally given with sharpened bamboo, present day Ajurns use sharpened steel poles called “khem sak”.  At first it was just a few pricks, but soon I could feel the sharpness grind against my spine.  My knuckles turned white and sweat poured down my face.  I was warned that the placement would be difficult, and I was given a mantra to repeat when it got rough.  I noticed that the others present felt my anguish and my reaction was laughter which engulfed the room.  Soon I was able to relax myself and I became numb.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
The more pain, the more power.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya

Sak Yant Tattoo Ayutthaya

sak yant

I noticed the apprentices, who where holding me still, stand and the sak yant sacred tattooing was finished.  Ajurn Wao splashed me with cool water and a flood of energy flooded by body.  I felt a great power come over me, as if I was new.  A smile spread over my face as gold leaf was rubbed into the blessed tattoo.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
A blessing with gold for luck.

Sak Yant Tattoo Ayutthaya

Finshed

After we were both finished we thanked Ajurn Wao and presented our donations to him for his services.  He told us that in our relationship we needed to stop trying to one-up each other, to listen more and let things go.  He was spot on again!  This man has real wisdom.

Sak Yant Tattoo Ayutthaya Sak Yant Tattoo Ayutthaya

We chose this experience because of the reputability of WSE Travel.  Other options include going to a temple where the tattoos are given in exchange for an offering.  In these places you will wait in line and receive a tattoo for very cheap, but it may be rushed and you will miss the personal experience.  While the needles at the temple are sterilized, they are dipped into the same ink from person to person.  Theoretically this could spread diseases and even though our research never found any confirmed cases, we decided that it wasn’t for us.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya
A tiger and a temple.

Sak Yant - Getting Thailand's Sacred Bamboo Tattoos in Ayutthaya

This was hands down one for the greatest, most spiritual experiences of our traveling lives, and the lessons we learned have immeasurable value.  WSE’s Sak Yant tattoo experiences are definitely not the cheapest, but you get what you pay for and this is a lifetime commitment.  With their inside knowledge and their commitment to sustainability and making sure the sak yant tradition continues in Thailand, WSE was the obvious choice for us.  They also offer experiences in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, with more cities in the works throughout Thailand as they search for more of the country’s best Ajarns.

We’ll write an update on our tattoos and how they are affecting our lives soon!  Do you think Ajarn Wao’s predictions will come true?

Would you get a sacred tattoo to help you on your life journey?

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Enjoy this post about the Sak Yant Experience – Getting sacred tattoos in Ayutthaya, Thailand? Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

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The Gastronomic Trail – The Amazing Adventure Bangkok

The Amazing Adventure Bangkok puts on several super fun tours around the city.  They organize these trips like scavenger hunts, giving you new missions as you go, along with opportunities to collect bonus points.  My tour choice was The Gastronomic Trail, a food tour which started at Suan Plern Market in Rama 4 Mall at 10am, and lasted until about 2pm.  It took us too several different neighborhoods using many different transport options.  Full disclosure: I got to go on the tour for free as a travel blogger ambassador, but my opinion is totally genuine and it is that this tour is awesome!

Our first mission on The Amazing Adventure Bangkok was find a ride to the Khlong Toei Market, the biggest fresh food market in Bangkok.  Once at the market we had to round up all the ingredients to make “som tum”, the classic Thai spicy green papaya salad.  At the start of the adventure you are given a purse with all of the money for the tour.  By negotiating the prices and finding cheap alternatives, you can score more points by having more funds remaining at the end of the day.

Amazing Adventure Bangkok
Kissing a live fish for bonus points!

We took a bus to the market because we had five people on our team (an awkward number for a taxi or tuk tuk ).  The Bangkok local buses are super cheap and pretty easy to navigate; use our guide to get yourself around the city!  Once at the market we split into teams, each taking half of the salad list.  The market was a very local type of place, with every type of food you could imagine (and more).  We searched for ingredients for our salad, first picking up a green papaya, some limes and chilies, peanuts, tomatoes, then the palm sugar.  Along the way we found some fish in a bucket.  One of the bonus points was to “kiss a live fish” so it was of course my job to complete this task.

With all of our salad fixings assembled, we split up into two tuk tuks and had a race to the next destination.  We drove like mad and our tuk tuk won of course.  We walked down a street to a small restaurant where they had some cooking tools set up for our salad-making.  They showed us how to grate the papaya, how much palm sugar and fish sauce to add, long beans and garlic as well as tamarind paste, limes, chilies, tomato, and peanuts.  Everything gets put into a giant mortar and pestle-pounded a little bit, releasing the juices which become the delicious sauce.  I got extra points for eating the whole thing– not really a challenge for me.

Our next mission was the cross the Chao Phraya River.  On to a ferry we went and minutes later we arrived on the far bank.  This area was Bang Krachao, “the green lungs of Bangkok.”  So close to the city, Bang Krachao seemed so far away.  Small elevated sidewalks connect the villages and everything is slower paced.  The peacefulness of the area made me feel happy and calm, the hustle of the city fading away.

After being dropped off by the ferry it was time for a bonus challenge.  I had to eat a whole century egg.  Century eggs are fermented in clay, lye, and salt for several weeks to a month until they turn deep black and become the texture of jello.  The flavor is salty and fermented, the texture hard to overcome, especially when you get to the black, runny yolk.  However, I won the challenge and we continued on to our next destination.

Mounting bicycles we rode for 5-10 minutes to a small lake.  Waiting for us was a local woman with a basket of lotus flowers.  She proceeded to teach us how to fold the flowers to reveal their beautiful insides, like a natural form of origami.  The lotus flower is the most sacred flower in Buddhism, so after folding them we paced the flowers into our bike baskets to take to the temple later.

The Amazing Adventure Bangkok continued the gastronomic trail to our next challenge; a blind-folded taste test.  We tasted two dishes and it’s amazing how hard it is to tell what food is without seeing it.  My group-mates knew I was a chef so they put a lot of faith in me, but it was the Thai people who were way better at picking out the flavors.  I could not distinguish between fish sauce, oyster sauce, and soy sauce…ah!  Maybe in time.

We made our way back to the ferry, ditching our bikes at the shop on the river’s edge.  Back in Bangkok we went to a nearby temple where we left our lotus flowers for the Buddha.  The guides explained to me about the Kau Cim sticks, in a bucket near the altar.  After kkneeling and praying, you pass the sticks around incense three times and then begin to shake the sticks, focusing on your question.  After shaking harder and harder, eventually a single stick pops out.  On this stick is a number which corresponds to a paper you draw from a basket to get your fortune.  From here you find the paper with your number which then states your fortune.  I liked parts of mine, but I’m not sure if I did the process right.

Traditionally after receiving your stick you should toss the Jiaobei blocks which have a round side and a flat side.  A correct fortune will result in both stones facing opposite directions, while two rounded sides up means NO or that the gods are displeased with the question.  Two flat sides up can mean NO or that the gods are laughing at you.  If you get this you should repeat the process.  My number was 13 and my Thai guides said “interesting”, but they didn’t go so far as to tell me what that meant!

One last mission of the Amazing Adventure Bangkok was to get back to the starting point and order lunch in Thai.  The five of us, much better friends now, crammed into a four seat taxi.  Very soon we were back at the beginning and we sat in the food court.  Our last challenge was to use Thai words to order certain foods.  All the signs were in Thai as well so we had to ask around, finding certain dishes.  We got some Tom Yum soup, an omelet, and some stir-fried pork and basil leaf.  The food was delicious and as we ate I tried to learn some new Thai words.

The Gastronomic Trail tour put on by The Amazing Adventure Bangkok was a fantastic time!  Much more than I expected, the price of the tour includes everything listed above, even the large meal at the end.  I really couldn’t have eaten any more.  The guides were very knowledgeable and I learned a lot about the city, going to some places that I wouldn’t have found without the tour.  Check out their website for prices and a list of other tours which they put on.  The tour would be especially great if you only had a few days in the city.  Being able to experience the local market and Bang Krachao are things that a normal three-day-tourist can’t accomplish.

Thanks Amazing Adventure Bangkok for a perfect tour!

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Thai Smiles – A Guide To What NOT To Do in Thailand

Thailand is a land of respect and “non-confrontational culture” where losing your cool is frowned upon and everything revolves around keeping a smile on your face.  This is a list of what NOT to do in Thailand!  Follow it if if you want to keep those Thai Smiles on the local’s faces.  Mistakes happen, but trying goes a long way in keeping the locals on your side!

What NOT To Do in Thailand – A Guide to Thai Smiles

1 – Disrespect The Royal Family:

A Guide to Thai Smiles - What NOT To Do in Thailand

The Thai Monarchy is all-powerful in Thailand.  As a foreigner, you shouldn’t voice any opinions about the King unless they are very positive.  You should always give the Royal family your utmost respect.  This includes not staring at posters of the King, standing up in the theater when the pre-movie film about the King is played, and standing still at 8am and 6pm when the national anthem is played over every speaker in Thaialnd.

2 – Get Upset:

Getting visibly angry or annoyed is considered bad form in Thailand.  Keeping that Thai smile on your face is the best way to get the most out of a bad situation.  Thai culture is based on respect and it goes both ways.  It isn’t always easy, especially when you come from a place like the United States where you get upset with people every day.  Test it out the next time you are about to lose your cool; a little respect goes a long way.

3 – Leave Your Shoes On:

what not to do in thailand

Going into someone’s house or business usually requires you to take off your shoes.  Thai people (and most Asian countries) think that shoes are super gross.  If you see shoes at the front door, leave yours there too.  It’s handy to wear sandals everywhere, making the removal process a lot easier.

4 – Ride the Elephants:

thai smiles - don't ride elephants

Elephants belong in nature, not cooped up as vehicles for your enjoyment.  Most of the elephants that are ridden were taken from their mothers as babies, broken of their animal spirit and destined to miserable lives in cages.  DO NOT RIDE elephants, EVER.  Also, many of the elephant “sanctuaries” are just zoos where the animals are treated very poorly for the enjoyment of uneducated tourists.  There are several places in Thailand that have more ethical sanctuaries, however these are a small majority and in general you must question the reason that any elephant is not in the wild.

5 – Eat Shark Fin:

no shark fin soup - thai smiles

Many places in Bangkok, especially Chinatown, serve shark fin.  When the sharks are caught, their fins are cut off and the rest of the fish is thrown back into the sea.  This is a very wasteful and unethical practice.  Sharks are one of the most important parts of the ocean ecosystem and when their population declines it reeks havoc on all aspects of sea life.  World fish populations are in drastic decline throughout the world, reduced by more than 50% since 1970.  Keeping the top predators alive and thriving is the best way to support healthy marine environments.

6 – Touch the Monks:

what not to do in bangkok thai smiles dont touch monks

Monks should be treated with the utmost respect.  Never should you touch a monk, and always give them space in a crowded situation.  Most transportation systems have special seats for monks so they can avoid contact with others.  This is especially important for women.  A woman touching a monk can bring the monk great shame and hurt his standing among the other monks.  Women should also never hand anything directly to a monk, but instaed hand it to a man first who then hands it to the monk.  Your best bet is to giv them as much space as you can to avoid awkward situations.

7 – Dress Inappropriately in the Temple:

A Guide to Thai Smiles - What NOT To Do in Thailand

Temples throughout Thailand and Asia in general are places of modesty and should be treated with respect.  Men and women should wear pants below the knees, while women should always cover their shoulders and chest.  Ignoring these rules is extremely disrespectful and puts a bad face on tourists.  Also, the images of the Buddha should never be used in appropriate ways.  The Buddha should never be displayed in a bar, or put on your body in the form of a tattoo.  If you have a Buddha tattoo and it is visible when entering Thailand, Thai customs agents can deny your entry into the country and permanently ban you from entering the Kingdom.

8 – Display Affection in Public:

no kissing in thailand - thai smiles - what not to do in thailand

Thai people are very modest in public and couples should avoid displaying affection on the streets.  Holding hands is frowned upon, while kissing with tongue in public is illegal.  Keep your hands to yourself and save the smooching for your hotel room.

9 – Shake Hands:

thai smiles from mcdonalds

Shaking hands is a very western thing.  Asians are very clean people and dislike spreading germs through touch.  Opt instead for the classic Thai wai.  Many Thai people will wai you and this should generally be returned.  Do this by placing your hands like a prayer at your chest and bowing your head until your nose touches your finger tips.  Don’t wai people of lower social status than you, as this is embarrassing to everyone around you.  This includes waiters, service people, and anyone who is obviously younger than you.   Don’t forget those Thai smiles with your wai!!!

10 – Point at People:

Pointing at things or especially people should is considered extremely rude in Thailand.  This is especially true when pointing with your feet. Use your head to direct attention in a certain direction.

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There are more things that could have been added to this list.  For instance, it’s bad luck to whistle at night, don’t dress sloppy, and don’t push too hard for the best deal.  The most important thing is to always keep those Thai smiles on your face and things will work out just fine!

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Ayutthaya Temples- The Second Capital of Thailand

Ayutthaya, Thailand rests just north of Bangkok along the Chao Phraya River.  Founded around 1350, the city eventually became the second capital of Siam after Sachothai.  Because of it’s central location with easy access to the rest of Asia, Ayutthaya became one of the must important trading centers in the world.  By 1700 the Siamese capital was the world’s largest city with over 1 million inhabitants. Today the Ayutthaya temples and temple ruins are some of the most impressive in all of Asia, drawing huge crowds to the small city.

Ayutthaya successfully held off many western invaders and Thailand was never colonized.  However, the Burmese successfully sacked the city in 1767, riding on elephants and knocking the heads off of every Buddha statue they could find.  The occupation was short lived, as the Chinese had seized the opportunity to move their armies into Burma.  The Burmese forces retreated to their homeland with a majority of the Thai gold, burning the Ayutthaya temples in their retreat.  The following years were plagued by civil war in Siam until control was taken by King Rama I.  The founding member of the Chakri dynasty, which still reigns in Thailand to this day, Rama I relocated the Thai capital from the ruins of Ayutthaya to present day Bangkok.

Today Ayuthhaya is home to some of Asia’s greatest temples, and the history of the place is intruiguing.  The Ayutthaya tempes are an easy day trip from Bangkok by bus or train, taking less than two hours to travel by either.

Renovations at our first temple stop
An ornamental bull

We booked a room at Yimwhan Hostel & Cafe just outside the old city.  They had bikes for rent which we took advantage of and soon found ourselves among the temples.  I purchased a large rainbow bag of corn puffs which I though would be funny to cruise around with in my bike basket.  They tasted terrible and I was a bit disappointed until I was told that the puffs were actually fish food for children to throw into the river.  We went to the river and threw some in as giant catfish swarmed all around.  We laughed about this for a little while, then biked across the river to the more famous Ayutthaya temples.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet

There are temples all over the city, but the best area for biking is inside the old city’s moat where the temples are more numerous.

Wat’s Up?

One of the most popular temples for tourists is Wat Mahathat which contains the famous Buddha Head in a Bodhi tree, where one of the knocked-down Buddha heads became entangled in the roots of a giant old fig tree.

Another of our favorites was Wat Ratchaburana which you could climb inside of.  After heading down a very steep set of stairs you reach the crypt which has some ancient paintings on the walls and bats in the ceiling.

Wat Ratchaburana
Wat Ratchaburana
Wat Ratchaburana
The view from Wat Ratchaburana.
It’s always yoga time for this aspiring yoga teacher
Headstands anyone?

Enjoy this post about Ayutthaya temples? Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

Here is a good website to book your transportation from Bangkok to Ayutthaya.

 

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How To Get Around Bangkok, Thailand – A Guide For Travelers

Figuring out how to get around Bangkok, Thailand can be overwhelming at first.  Navigating the big city can seem impossible, until you figure out the different transportation systems.  The options are many and all have their time and place and ideal use.  Taking advantage of the right method can save you time, money, and headaches.

HOW TO GET AROUND BANGKOK

how to get around bangkok

1 – Taxi

Metered taxis can be the cheapest way to get around the city.  They are best when the roads are less busy (before 7 am), midday (10am-2pm) and after 8pm.  Taxi’s should always be running the meter.  If the driver offers you a price upfront then move on to the next driver because he’s trying to rack up the price.  They usually will only do this during rush hour when the meter price isn’t worth it for them to drive you.  At these times it’s best to take another mode of transport anyhow because it could take you hours to drive a few miles.  Sometimes the taxis around the very touristy areas will also refuse to use the meter.  If you just walk a couple blocks out of the super touristy area you should be able to find a taxi not trying to scam you.

Uber is another decent option.  They are usually a little more expensive than the meter taxis but you get a set price in advance.  You need a Thai phone number to do this, as the drivers usually like to call you in advance.  Set yourself up in front of a 7 Eleven to make it easy for the driver to understand.  Just say “Farang 7 Eleven” and they can usually find you.  Your hostel can usually help you talk to the driver as well.  You can use the code zackm5528ue to get 50 Baht off of your first ride.

Grab is an app like Uber, but more popular in Asia.  Most of the metered taxis also run this app.  It is usually a little cheaper than Uber and a good option during busier traffic times when the drivers don’t want to run the meter.  Same as Uber, they will usually call you so be prepared to communicate with someone who has rudimentary English skills.  Most taxi drivers at least know basic English though, so don’t fear.

how to get around bangkok

2 – Tuk Tuk

Tuk Tuks are little motorized rickshaws that are on every street corner in Bangkok.  Slightly more expensive than the metered taxis, tuk tuks are SUPER FUN to zoom around town.  The price starts at about 100 Baht for a 10 min ride and you always have to negotiate to get a decent deal.  Ask your hostel before you start for a fair price.  They hold three people comfortableyand up to six if you want to get super cozy with your friends after a night out.  They are best to use at night for bar hopping when it’s cooler and you care less about the lack of A/C.  Keep in mind that you will get wind in your hair and the dust from the street may irritate your eyes a little, but it’s totally worth it for the experience.  Everyone who comes to Thailand has to take a tuk tuk at least once.

There is also a really cool app called Tuk Tuk Hop.  It’s like Uber for tuk tuks, and takes you around the historic temple area of the city.  You pay a set price and get unlimited rides for the day.  It’s really nice because you don’t have to negotiate or search for vehicles.  Check out our article HERE for more information about this app.

how to get around bangkok

3 – Moto-taxi

Mototaxis are the scariest way to travel in Bangkok.  The drivers are crazy and you might spend the whole time praying that you live to see the next day.  However, during rush hour this is sometime the ONLY WAY to get places because the mototaxis will cut between the traffic.  Look for the guys with orange vests and the price usually starts at 50 Baht and foreigners usually have to negotiate.

how to get around bangkok

4 – BTS, MRT, ART (Skytrain, Metro, Airport Rail)

The train system is by far the easiest and safest way to get around.  It goes to most of the most popular Bangkok neighborhoods and get your their fast.  You can pay as you go or purchase a re-loadable card for 100 Baht.  The hard part about the trains is that there are three different systems and each has it’s own top-up card.  Also when transferring between lines you usually have to leave one station and navigate around a corner to the other.  Use the trains during rush hour or on weekends when the roads are clogged up.

how to get around bangkok
Bangkok BTS, MRT, and ART Map

how to get around bangkok

5 – River Boats and Canal Boats

River Boats – The best way to get to the temples from central Bangkok.  Just take the BTS to Saphan Taksin station and walk down to the Chao Phraya River.  There are several options of boats that can take you across to Wat Arun for around 50 Baht as well as a free boat at night to the Asiatique Market.

how to get around Bangkok map
Chao Phraya River Boat Map

Canal Boats – These boats cruise through the small canals in central Bangkok.  This is the best way to get from the BTS to the Golden Mount and Khao San Road.  The boat is a 9 Bahtt flat free and cuts your travel time in half over the bus, even more at rush hour.  Buuuuuut, the downside is that these boats stop running at 7pm.

how to get around Bangkok map
Bangkok Canal Boat Map

how to get around bangkok

6 – Bus

Public buses run all over Bangkok and are the cheapest form of transport.  They are pretty much useless during rush hour, so keep that in mind.  They also are not air conditioned but have open windows.  Just wait at the bus stop, get on and sit down.  Someone will come around to collect your money.  The best way to figure out which buses go where is with Google Maps– it’s usually accurate enough.

how to get around bangkok

7 – Songthaew

These are pickup trucks with bench seats installed in the truck bed.  Less common in Bangkok, they are very popular in Chiang Mai and other cities throughout Thailand.   They usually have a set route and a cheap price.  Just flag them down, hop in, and pay at the end.

how to get around bangkok

8 – Bicycle

Bicycling in Bangkok can be downright scary when traffic is crazy.  However, cycling around the temples at night can be an amazing experience.  Check out the Bangkok Night Bike Tour put on by Grasshopper Adventures.  Also, biking is the best way to get around Bang Krachao, the “green lungs” of Bangkok.  Take a whole day to explore this neighborhood and escape from the grind of city life without going too far from the urban center.

how to get around bangkok

9 – Walking

Walking is always our favorite way to get around.  You see more and interact more with the local people.  Some nice places to walk in Bangkok include Lumphini Park, Chatuchak Market, and Khao San Road.  Use the maps.me app listed below for nice downloadable maps to show you how to get around Bangkok by foot.  There is also a free walking tour by Take A Walk BKK once a week.  Check their Facebook page for more info.  Note that if you walk more than two blocks by choice, Thai people will laugh at you in a lighthearted way.  The concept of walking by choice for exercise or sightseeing is pretty foreign here.  Thai people jump on moto-taxis to go two blocks!

Other Useful Advice

Maps.me – The most useful app for world travelers.  Just download the country map of wherever you are going then you are all set once you arrive.  It navigates you around without using data.  The app picks up location data from pinging WiFi signals, giving you constant location updates in towns and cities.  It’s very handy to make sure the taxi driver is taking you in the right direction, or just for general exploring of a new city.  This is the app we use the most while traveling, don’t skip it.

Sim Card – Get yourself a Thai number.  You can pick one up at any 7 Eleven for 49 Baht then just top it up 100 Baht at a time to keep yourself connected in case of emergency.  If you phone is locked you can get it jailbroken at many phone repair stores for a cheap price, or just buy an old used phone to use as a travel phone.

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Yimwhan Hostel & Cafe in Ayutthaya, Thailand

Yimwhan Hostel & Cafe

Yimwhan Hostel & Cafe in Ayutthaya, Thailand is a new and chic hostel in the old capital city.  Located in a quiet neighborhood just outside the old city, Yimwhan offers everything a traveler needs to feel comfortable in a new place. Their cafe and common room are great places to enjoy a coffee, or you can rent bicycles from their friendly staff and quickly find yourself among the ancient temples.  If biking is not your thing then they will call you a tuk tuk and have you at the temples in minutes.

Yimwhan Hostel & Cafe

Their private rooms feature large comfy beds on trendy pallet supports.  We loved the antique style light bulbs and old 80s televisions used as tables.  Each room also has a safe for your valuables.

Yimwhan Hostel & CafeYimwhan Hostel & Cafe also has mixed dorm and female dorm rooms.  The dorms are simple, clean, and well lit, a great value for the price.

Yimwhan Hostel & CafeThe highlight of Yimwhan Hostel & Cafe for us was the free breakfast.  Going way above and beyond the normal free hostel breakfast, Yimwhan served eggs, sausage, toast, cereals, milk, juice, and coffee.

Yimwhan Hostel & CafeYimwhan’s common room is a great place to relax after a long day of biking around the temples of Ayutthaya.  They have comfy beanbag chairs and movies to watch to wind down.  Check out our video below for a virtual tour around the hostel!

Services Included:

Super-fast WiFi

Free continental breakfast – eggs, sausage, toast, coffee, juice, and more!

Air-conditioning in all rooms

Cafe serving snacks and delicious coffees

Common kitchen

Movies, games, and books!

Bike rental for exploring the Temples

Shared kitchen for guests

Free maps

Address: 134/23 M.3, Klongsuanplu, Ayutthaya 13000

Email: yimwhanhostel@hotmail.com

Website: www.yimwhanhostelandcafe.com

Phone: 039 252 447

Cafe Hours: 7:00 – 17:00

Prices:

6 Bed Mixed Dorm: 290 ฿

6 Bed Female Dorm: 290 ฿

Standard Private Twin : 790 ฿

Deluxe Private Twin : 890 ฿

Deluxe 4 Bed Family Room: 1290 ฿

Book your train to Ayutthaya using the convenient form below!

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Friendly Nomad Feature: Mattera: Life Designing and Psychotherapy

This is the first in a series of posts we’re starting that will feature the businesses of our traveling friends and clients of Global Traveler Networks!  We’re featuring amazing people who we 100% support and helping them spread the word about the good they are offering the world!

Mattera Life Designing & Psychotherapy
Iosif & Natalia of Mattera Life Designing & Psychotherapy

Iosif and Natalia of Mattera Life Designing & Psychotherapy are quite inspirational.  We met them randomly over the internet and they kindly offered us a free first psychotherapy session of “couples therapy from a couple” as they call it.  Their focus is in combining psychotherapy, metaphysics and spirituality to create a holistic approach to bettering your life.  Originating from Romania but currently based in Bali , they conduct their sessions in person or via Skype.  Most of their clients are people who have already broken out of the so-called “normal realm” of thinking and are looking for the next level of consciousness.  Long term travelers and digital nomads could find them the most beneficial, since when living overseas its hard to know where to go or who to turn to if you would like to talk to a therapist.  Also, local therapists from the country you are in might not understand your background and your nomadic lifestyle!

Mattera Life Designing and Psychotherapy
Our Skype Session!

One of the most interesting things that we talked about in our session was our fears around money.  Natalia and Iosif really opened our eyes to the difference between the “spending mindset” vs the “investing mindset. ” Whenever you are using money for any reason, do you think of it as “spending” i.e. the scary loss of money, or as “investing” into yourself.  “God is in you, and you can trust god” said Natalia, “You must know that you will be given all that you need, when you need it”.

Mattera is picky about the people they take on for sessions as they are better suited to those who have already started along the path of expanding their conscious awareness.  The best way to describe their target market might be “hippie traveler digital nomads”.

If you go to their website, mattera.life, you can sign up for a free first session so Iosif and Natalia can get to know you a little bit.  They want to open doors for you inside of yourself, so you can search around for your own happiness.  Some of their areas of expertise are helping people with limiting beliefs, emotional blockages and traumas, and accessing higher states of consciousness. Their theory is that by building your life in the right way, the universe will conspire to give you everything that you need.

Website: Mattera.life

Instagram: @matteratraveling

Facebook: HERE

Email: manifest@mattera.life

Mattera Life Designing and Psychotherapy

Enjoy this post about Mattera: Life Designing and Psychotherapy?  Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

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